Willard Call

A Sketch of Willard Call’s Life – by his wife, Adelaide. Written about Nov. 1933.

After forty seven years of varied experience in living with this husband of mine, and ten years after he has written so tenderly of me, I have decided that there are a lot of things I would like to tell our children and grandchildren about him. I know him better than his mother knew him. I have studied him and I think I know him better than he knows himself. Willard was a good boy and he has been a good man. In his family life he has tried to be just. I love him and I trust him. I married him, on April 1, 1886, for all earlier data I shall have to depend upon others.

When he was born he already had four sisters. Willard was born on a big farm, long wide high hay stacks, vegetable pits, acres of corn shocks, stone wall corrals filled with cows, a yard full of children for Willard was the twentieth in Anson Call’s family. Father Call’s idea for his family was that children should have plenty of fruit, vegetables, milk, corn meal mush, honey and homemade bread. Whether the style called for pointed or square toed shoes, it made little difference to him, for his little folks went bare footed. They wore clothes made at home: jeans, trousers, hickory shirts, brown denims, hats. I won’t say etc, for that was all of it. Another of Father’s ideas was that each one should help according to his age and size. At six years, Willard was the family cow boy, learning to milk cows and chop wood for the kitchen stove. At fourteen years, with two younger brothers, he was driving a hundred head of hogs out into the wheat fields, and watching them while they gleaned the golden heads from his father’s large fields. Except for an occasional trip to Salt Lake City with a load of hay or vegetables, he was seldom out of his own ward. He was present on the first day and became a member of the second primary association organized in our Church. Sister Ann Duston President, Sister Mary Evans, first counselor and Mother Call, second counselor. He operated as a deacon, a teacher, a priest, an elder, a seventy, a high priest and a Bishop’s counselor in what was known as the East Bountiful Ward. I think he was just an ordinary student in school, for though he had attended the University and was teaching school when I first met him, he did two years in college after we were married, and he says he has had forty-seven years of good home training and disciplining since then.

His boyhood days were uneventful like most of the boys of his time, attending district school in the winter and in the summer plowing, planting, harrowing and harvesting the crops, not forgetting the stripping of cane and king molasses, attending candy pullings, peach cuttings and corn husking bees. On Saturday afternoons, his family and the families of the neighbors went swimming together in the Great Salt Lake, then there were the ball games, the skating parties, the dances, the home dramatics. He cared little for a gun, seldom went hunting, was always partial to a book or the charm of a pretty girl. He was fond of horseback riding. I saw him first as he passed our home on a large iron grey horse, headed for the little rock school house in south Farmington, and I realized that this ,handsome blue eyed, white headed man was to be my school teacher, but little realized at that time he would be my future husband. Did I look at him? Well after all these years I can describe the cut of his shoes and overcoat, and after closer inspection I note he wore a dark blue serge suit and a duffy hat and a black bow tie. At the end of that first week he did not ride the gray horse, but came in a carriage built for two, and I spent the weekend with my sister Dora, in Bountiful, who with her husband, Israel Call, had just come back from Sunset, Arizona. He and the old gray horse were a little late getting home one night towards the close of that eventful school year. The horse had fallen, and pinned the teacher under him. He had broken his father’s watch and was considerably bruised up. An explanation was asked for and his father said, “There will be no more of this night work. Do you expect to marry that White girl? Well go and do it now while it’s raining and you can’t do anything else. School will soon close and, you will need to be on the farm.” The next day being Saturday, this blue-eyed, fair-haired lover of mine received the surprise of his life, for Mother said “No.” Orpha said “No sir.” John said, “I should say not.” But dear old daddie said, after listening to them all, “I think Willard’s father is right. They are both young, but just as well get married now as later.” We could hardly meet Father Call’s schedule, because Willard did not hold the Melchezedik Priesthood, but in less than a month we were married in the Logan Temple, by Apostle Mariner W. Merrill, and as I look back, I am inclined to call our life together a success. Surely it could not be counted a failure. We haven’t made money. We haven’t bent our energies that way; but our hearts and home were filled with love for each other and for the better things of life, and as the fourteen babies came to us, one by one, each baby was doubly welcome. We are now proud of our fifty-four grandchildren and our five great grandchildren, among them being three pair of twins. How we have lived and loved and sacrificed for each other and for our splendid family and for the gospel, and to merit the approval of our Heavenly Father.

Willard was a merchant. He served as a city councilman in the Bountiful City, as Justice of the peace in Bountiful precinct and as Deputy Sheriff in Davis County. For six years be was counselor to Bishop Stoker. He also served as a ward clerk, and has always been a ward teacher. In 1893 he was called to fill a mission to England, traveling in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge Counties. He was twice in London, twice in Nottingham, where his mother was born, twice in Liverpool. He visited Glascow, Scotland and London Dairy in Ireland. The last seven months of his time, he presided over the Norwich conference, returning home July 26, 1895. Shall I ever forget his homecoming? When I heard his voice ring out on the night air, as he said good night at the gate to his mother and sisters who met him at Woods Cross Depot, heaven could not be sweeter. I see him now as he took each child from its bed and made it understand that Daddie had come home.

An Experience: Willard and his companion, W. W. Pace visited London, walking down Regent street together. Willard felt a jerky hand on his shoulder and Will Pace’s big voice said, “Just look at that.” They came face to face with the mammoth Stars and Stripes. Said Will, “That’s the prettiest thing I have seen in two years. What is this place? We will go in and find out.” They hit the knocker and were met at the door by a page with a tray, each laid his card on the tray and after seating them in the antey room, he bowed himself out. Returning, he said, “Gentlemen, Mr. Byard will see you in a moment.” Ho, Ho. They were in the American Embassy, and in another moment they were shaking hands with the Ambassador. “Gentlemen,” he said, “It will give me pleasure to serve two Americans. Be at home for you are under the Stars and Stripes. Now please command me.” He supplied them with passes to the house of Parliament and also the queen’s stables. Their persistency and a few tips opened to them the door of King George’s carriage, which had not left the barn since queen Victoria’s Coronation, and Willard and Will Pace think they are the only Mormon Elders who ever sat in King George’s carriage. At the house of Parliament these two persistent Americans, each sat in the chair of the grand old man Gladstone. At Madac Tusod’s too, their persistence and tips brought Napoleon’s rifle from its long locked glass case, and each brought it to his shoulder and looked down its long barrel.

The P.O.H. and M. Co. of which Willard was secretary when he left for his mission was still struggling financially from the effects of the panic of 1893. He went back into the store and assumed the presidency that same autumn. He was chosen second counselor to Bishop Stoker in the East Bountiful ward and as representative of the Bishopric he assisted in organizing a company of Infantry in the National Guard. C. R. Mabey was made captain and Willard a Sergeant. So I had a soldier Bishop for a husband, wearing Uncle Sam’s blue, and drilling on the campus with rifle and saber. With his Bishopric, his business and his duties as a guardsman, his time was so occupied that he seldom had an evening at home, and yet our home life seemed so complete and satisfying, not a word, not a look to mar its sacredness and happiness. We had babies and babies, but he was never too tired for a romp on the floor with them, or to undress and bathe them, and not one of them failed to learn the multiplication tables or to rceive correction when they used slang or poor English. And his example for honesty, truthfulness, humility and dependability was constantly before them. He did not tell his children to go to church, but together they went, hand in hand; he did say this, “Avoid the rear seats. You can sleep better on the front seats, there will be less to disturb you.”

In the spring of 1898 and less than two years after Willard returned from England, when we had seven small children and meager finances to depend upon, this Bishop, Soldier husband of mine, asked me to smile and consent to his volunteering to follow old glory into foreign territory in the war with Spain. Together we went to the Office of the first Presidency of the Church for their approval and blessing. George Q. Cannon stood and gave us his ideas of the situation, Joseph F. Smith followed in a short, curt talk, revealing the heart of the man who was born after the death of his martyred father. Then spoke the Prophet of the Lord, Wilford Woodruff, and though ninety years of age, it was plain to all present that he spoke as the mouth piece of God. “Brethren, the war is now on. Let us not discuss what brought it on, but our responsibility with the rest of this great nation is to defend the flag. I hope there will be enough Mormon boys in the Utah organization to make of it a Mormon organization. As to advising you personally to go, we don’t feel disposed to do it, but if you go, you will go with our blessings and the blessings of the Lord will attend you. That day, the 3rd of May, Willard enlisted. Since ten years old, he had occasionally worn a tight bandage, and as protection to broken ribs which bad never properly healed. In the armory, behind big guns, he removed the bandage, and the Doctors overlooked his defect. On the forth, we made a few necessary arrangements, visited our parents in Farmington, returned at 4 P.M. for a blessing by Patriarch Tolman and Bishop David Stoker. On the fifth, Willard deeded the home and real estate to me, gave Frank Montulon a life lease to our property on main street, and with the five other Bountiful volunteers, was escorted to the Depot with band music and song by the people of our town. We went first to President Wilford Woodruff’s office, for the blessings he had promised. Willard’s blessing was to the effect that his blood should not be spilled in battle and that the Lord would preserve him from the necessity of shedding innocent blood, that he would be made strong in all the weak parts of his body and that he would return safely to his family. He was healed that day under the hands of the apostles and his broken ribs have never bothered him since. From the presidencies office, we went to Fort Douglas, he and I, where he was mustered in as a United States soldier in Battery 4, Utah Light artillery, under command of Richard W. Young who was at that time a Captain, and who later ranked as Major when the battalion was completed. They drilled at Fort Douglas until May 21st, then mid a grand ovation left for Camp Merritt near San Francisco. The Utah Batteries were among 3000 soldiers under General Green, who sailed on four transport, the China, the Colon, the Zelendia and the Senator, which constituted the second expedition and sailed on the 15th of June 1898….They were received and banqueted at the palace of Queen Lilioquilani, at Honolulu. They touched at Wake Island, where they took possession and planted the Stars and Stripes. They arrived in Manila Bay July 17, where Willard, for the first time listened to the roar and thunder of real war. After the war ended, the Utah light Artillery took up permanent quarters at Cuartell Do Mesic. The Filipino Insurrection, which broke out about the last of December was much more vigorously fought than the Spanish war. At the request of Senator Frank J. Cannon, discharges were cabled from Washington, on the 12th of December for Willard and J. J. Holbrook, and on the 15th of December, they started for home. They stopped four days at Naga Saki, Japan to coal the vessel and on Christmas day enjoyed the novelty of a ride around town in a Gin-rick-a-shaw.

The voyage required 34 days going and 34 days returning. He arrived home January 18, 1899, haying been away from home about nine months, and having traveled 18,000 miles and fought in six battles, including the bombardment of Manila. He has been under three foreign flags and enjoyed the best of health. He claims the distinction of being the first Mormon Elder to preach the gospel among those Roman Catholic people in the Philippine Islands. In Cuartell Do Mesic, on August 30, 1898, he preached to a good sized audience taking his text from the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

When be returned to our little home in Bountiful, I placed our three months old baby girl, our 8th child in his arms, and he saw for the first tithe, little Liberty, for that is the name we gave her.

After a visit with brother Bowen in Mexico, and a year in the P.O.H. and M. Co. Willard accepted a flattering proposition from a railroad contracting company at Nacco, Arizona as bookkeeper and he spent the next nine months on the border. Willard Jr. remained in Mexico with Uncle Bowen’s family to attend school. Meantime Willard showed signs of liking that country with only two seasons, a rainy season and a dry season. He began to boast of what he had seen in Mexico and wrote for me to meet him in El Paso, Texas, which I did, and together we vent to the Colonies. I soon discovered that Willard was interested, not alone in the two seasons but actually in the people and particularly in one girl, who later became his wife and is now the mother of ten of his children, Aunt Leah, as we affectionately call her. He wrote to me of her, which was the object of my visit to Mexico, and before I had even seen her, felt impressed to promise him she would be his wife for time and all eternity. Here and now, I would like to leave my testimony with our children. Some of the happiest moments of my life have been spent with Aunt Leah as your father’s wife and in our home, as we lived under the same roof for several years. And although it has brought to me some of the keenest heartaches I have never regretting having had the privilege and opportunity of living this holy principle. We have had mutual love and respect and feel that our lives together have been sweet and commendable.

Twelve years of our happy married lives were lived in Mexico. Ten of our children were born there, two were married there and our dear little Afton who lived only two weeks was buried there, so that memories and experiences of the South Land mellow our hearts toward those dark skinned people who as a rule treated our people kindly. Willard acted as ward teacher, was in the presidency of the Young Men’s Mutual, was Superintendent of the Sunday School and a member of the Stake Board of the Sunday School and a member of the Stake High Council. He was prominent in all of our home dramatics. He was in charge of the Chichuacua exhibit at the International fair in El Paso, Texas. For several months he worked for the Union Mercantile Co. at Dublan. Later he went into business for himself. He had a store at Dublan, one at Pearsen, twenty miles South-east of Dublan and a milk and butter business at Medero, eighty miles down the railroad line. But when we were counseled to leave our homes and come into the United States, we just walked out and left everything for the Mexicans who were ready to loot our property as soon as we left, in fact they would walk in and help themselves when the boys were waiting to serve them. We loved our little home and our surroundings were beautiful, but the exodus seemed imperative and Willard came to El Paso in charge of six hundred helpless women and children, the men of our Colony remained to help the other Colonies in their exodus.

Now our struggle was with poverty. Willard developed a cancer on his face, but he was usually cheerful and always hopeful, and in 1924 he found a niche as an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake Temple. After six years he recovered from his cancer and has been employed by the Church since 1928, which employment, together with a government pension has fairly well taken care of our finances. The depression which began in 1927 has reduced wealthy men to penury and charity, but Willard’s policy of keeping out of debt has brought us independence and a feeling of security. We are proud of our splendid family and of Willard’s ability and tact in maintaining love and confidence, and keeping alive a splendid family spirit.

Funeral services were held at the Bountiful First Ward, 2:00 P.M. June 21, 1945.

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Author: Heather Hoyt

I'm a stay-at-home mom living in Wyoming and I like to write, take photographs, and play with my kids.

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